Dictionary > Polyunsaturated fatty acid

Polyunsaturated fatty acid

noun, plural: polyunsaturated fatty acids
Any of a group of unsaturated fatty acids characterized by having more than one double bond on the hydrocarbon chain
A fatty acid is a long chain of hydrocarbon with a carboxylic acid at the beginning (alpha) and a methyl end (omega). An unsaturated fatty acid is a type of fatty acid where there is one or more double bonds in the chain. This is in contrast to the saturated fatty acid that only has a single bond between the carbon molecules. The presence of the double bond indicates that the unsaturated fatty acid molecule can absorb additional hydrogen atoms, unlike the saturated types. Unsaturated fatty acids may occur in cis or trans configuration and may also be grouped into monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
A polyunsaturated fatty acid is a type of unsaturated fatty acid with more than one double bond. Because of the presence of several double bonds, the polyunsaturated fatty acids tend to have higher boiling point than the monounsaturates (which only have one double bond). Similar to other unsaturated fatty acids, the polyunsatured fatty acids are liquids at room temperature. When placed inside a ref, they remain liquid. Polyunsaturated fatty acids have lower melting point than monounsaturated fatty acids. They include the essential fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acid , omega-6 fatty acid, and linoleic acids. They are found chiefly in fish, seeds, bananas, nuts, and vegetable oils.
Word origin: poly– (many)
Abbreviation: PUFA
Also called:

  • polyunsaturated fat
  • polyunsaturate


  • monounsaturated fatty acid
  • See also:

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